March is a bumper month for positive stuff about the arts and dementia - especially if you are fortunate enough to be in Northern Ireland.
The month-long Celebration of Age looks set to provide a real chance for all sorts of engagement with the arts and dementia. Four specific events stand out:
1 ArtsCare, Jenny Elliot’s Belfast-based ball of energy, will be everywhere making sure the full spectrum of visual arts, produced with people with dementia at the centre, is easily accessible to the public. If you are in Northern Ireland during the month it will be difficult to avoid. The whole event provides much-needed advocacy for the range and value of work largely produced in a therapeutic context.
2 The Arts Council Northern Ireland is supporting a Weekend Residential Retreat for established artists whose work engages in some way with dementia. Around a dozen artists with very varied experience have been selected from a strong set of applications. In the context of a month-long Celebration of Age providing space for creative exchange and development between artists and the international expertise of the Dementia Service Development Centre (that’s us) should generate some fantastic learning for everyone involved.
And what makes the Retreat really different is this. Much of what goes on will be captured in one way or another. For once though there is an opportunity straight afterwards for many more artists, commissioners, health and care staff to take on the discussion at a whole-day event.
3 The Dementia – Black and White Symposium is being held on Friday 28th March to mark the end of the Celebration of Age for 2014. The event has been designed to allow a much deeper exploration of issues which get too little attention when people think of creativity and dementia. What are the ethical issues which people need to think through? How is dementia framed in the arts and the media? These are the sort of issues DIAMetric was set up to promote. People should not be put off by the grand title. It will be interesting, stimulating and fun. I know this because DSDC is delighted to be facilitating the whole day thanks to funding from Atlantic Philanthropies, who also co-fund the Northern Ireland Dementia Centre with the Northern Ireland Government.
4 And if that is not enough for one month there is also a break-out session on the arts and dementia at the main Conference on Age being held on 13th March at Titanic Belfast. We will be trying to work out exactly what we mean by the arts and dementia and whether it really matters. This, as I suspect many of you already know, is not as easy as it sounds.
All in all quite a month in prospect and further indication of the vibrancy and innovation in Northern Ireland following Derry Londonderry’s reign as the first UK City of Culture.
Don’t worry if you can’t make it to Northern Ireland, DIAMetric will be following events closely.
For more details on the Symposium check this out
The Celebration of Age website with full details of events is here